When a toddler nurses...
I feel my cheeks going red…. Over the shouts and shrieks of children playing on the equipment, I catch broken bits of the conversation at another other picnic table.
“…nursing that kid?” “(Gasp) Yes! I can’t believe people do that!” “And in public…”
And I purposely shut my ears.
I drop my head and sniff the blonde head pressed up against me.
Smells like heaven and earth combined.
A moment ago he was a wild toddler, sweaty from his antics, unsure of what he wanted from me, sure of everything he didn’t want (anything and everything). But finally he slowed down. And before I knew it, he was clinging to my leg whimpering, “Paaa, eee,” (our strange code-word for nurse, please.) So we left the big kids playing on the jungle gym and found a bench for a nurse-rest.
It’s really impossible to explain to a woman who hasn’t done it herself- why would you want to nurse a big, cranky toddler? Oh, sure, they get demanding. Oh, sure, it’s inconvenient at times. Oh, sure, sometimes you’d love to sleep curled up in a ball instead of tangled up with a kicking little body.
But it’s the love pats on the arm while he suckles. But it’s the change from meltdown to smiles after a tumble when he only latches on for half a minute. But it’s talking with a friend while you effortlessly nurse him to sleep. But it’s the eyes that gaze up at you adoringly- looking at you the same way he has thousands of times over the last two years.
I think of all the things a mom misses when she and her baby wean at 6 months, or 12 months. All the special, secret things that pass between a mother and her child during those silent moments. (As a friend of mine jokes, “It’s the only time she holds still!”) And I’m not embarrassed anymore. Instead I feel a compassionate longing that every mother might know the peace and joy of nursing a toddler. And I lift my head up from my son’s, look across the grass, and smile brightly at the moms sitting over there.
Written by Maureen Armendariz